The Cook and Baker review

Chef Marco Bonanni shows off cupcakes at the Bondi Junction shop.
Chef Marco Bonanni shows off cupcakes at the Bondi Junction shop. Photo: Peter Rae

37 Oxford St Bondi Junction, NSW 2022

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Opening hours Mon-Fri 6.30am-3.30pm; Sat and Sun 6.30am-3pm
Features Outdoor seating, Breakfast-brunch, Cheap Eats, Family friendly, Food shop
Prices Cheap (mains under $20)
Phone 02 9388 0119

Standing in line at the Cook and Baker on a wintry Saturday afternoon, a lady exclaims, "Oh my god, the Victoria sponge". A boy holding a football asks at the till, "Are there any doughnuts?"

Further back, two men, staring intently at the pastry, sandwich, tart and cake-laden glass cabinets, discuss the likelihood of snaring almond croissants. Both, it eventuates, are sold out, sending a ripple effect through the rest of the line. Early morning devotees of this long-loved bakery have snaffled them. 

The Cook and Baker, run by sisters-in-law Jodie Laming and Nic Girard since 2016, has a long history in Bondi Junction. First founded by New Zealanders Cherie Bevan and Tass Tauroa in 2012, it became a Mecca for lovers of old-fashioned New Zealand-style home-baked goods, from cakes, and doughnuts to slices, lamingtons, frittatas, pies and tarts. 

Tuscan tuna sandwiches.
Tuscan tuna sandwiches. Photo: Peter Rae

Today, wistful voices inquire after salted caramel chocolate brownies, Reuben toasted sandwiches, ham and cheese croissants and mini white chocolate and mixed berry cheesecake. The queue, respectfully bollarded to avoid a melee, moves like fans seeking a pop star's autograph. 

In April, Laming and Girad moved the Cook and Baker across Oxford Street to a bigger shop. It's a sunnier spot with more outdoor seating and buffeted from traffic by a bike path. An expanded open kitchen allows a bigger range of products and more catering and pre-order options. 

A new range of focaccias, including chilli and potato and rosemary and sea salt, along with spinach and feta triangles and cinnamon cruffins, have also been added. Staff say some customers drive kilometres to bag hauls of croissants at sun-up.

Rosemary and garlic foccacia.
Rosemary and garlic foccacia. Photo: Peter Rae

Under a shelf of freshly baked soy and linseed sourdough loaves, bustling kitchen staff are visible attending daily pastry, dough, sandwich and cake production. 

They wave back at regulars ordering roast pumpkin, feta and caramelised onion tarts and beef and ale pies. Keen eyes watch a staff member carefully carry out a lemon drizzle cake, its fat roundness daubed with a set snow-white lava of icing. 

Nearby, shelves are stacked with jars of lollies, housemade bread and butter pickles, biscotti, tomato sauce, granola, mandarin marmalade and raspberry and vanilla or apricot jam.

Sweet and savoury danishes.
Sweet and savoury danishes. Photo: Peter Rae

Sitting in the frosty sunshine outside at black street tables, the full wonder of Cook and Baker's entirely on-premises baking is revealed. A bacon, egg and cherry tomato tart, a square pork-strewn golden bed helmed by soft pastry walls is lusciously hefty. Equally, the mini flourless mandarin marmalade cakes, in production because it's citrus season, are plump gems topped with tangy rind and dusted icing. 

The sausage roll, with a luscious meatloaf-like filling, is wrapped in a pillowy doona of thick golden pastry and comes with tangy housemade tomato sauce. It conjures true edible happiness. 

Few baked goods however, come close to the ginger crunch, a tingling, coconut-studded, shortbread wedge iced with sugary, buttery, ginger icing nullifying all mantras of "Less sugar, fewer carbohydrates". Buy two and keep one in the fridge for personal emergencies.

Jam and custard filled doughnuts.
Jam and custard filled doughnuts. Photo: Peter Rae

A Single O flat white is good and strong along with a hot lemon, ginger and honey tonic also available cold. Kids drink "old-school" milkshakes ranging from chocolate, caramel and strawberry to lime and spearmint, from a drinks selection including cold-pressed juices, smoothies and organic teas.

Laming and Girard, keen for everyone to snaffle their favourites, are starting two new Cook and Baker outlets. One opens in July inside Harris Farm in Lane Cove and the other in March in Wooloware beside the Georges River.

For now, their cinnamon brioche, gluten-free flourless chocolate mud cake, meringue tarts and zucchini, pea, asparagus, mint and goats cheese tarts are here until sold out.

Laming, also a New Zealander and in the Bondi Junction cafe every day, says any daily produce not sold is passed to homeless and vulnerable people in the community with help from Waverley Police and a nearby neighbour.

"Our philosophy is food created with thought, made with love and shared with pleasure," Laming says. "We make 100 per cent of the products we sell. We don't outsource anything, it's all made on-site every day. It is absolutely lovely seeing people enjoy the product. That's why we do it." 

The low-down

The Cook and Baker

Vibe Neighbourhood bakery with loyal devotees serving old-fashioned New Zealand-style cakes, pastries and savouries. Get in early.

Go-to dish Ginger crunch, a nostalgic paean to home-cooked slices

Insta-worthy dish Cream-filled doughnuts and lemon drizzle cake

https://www.thecookandbaker.com.au/